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Opinions of Friday, 19 September 2003

Columnist: Asibey, Akwasi

Ghana Needs More of Sam Jonahs ...

....of this World Not Less – A Reply to Amoo-Asante!

When I read Amoo-Asante’s rumbling diatribe against the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Ashanti Goldfield Corporation (AGC), Mr. Sam Jonah, and my first reaction is thank God this man is not in a position to influence public policy in Ghana. My second reaction is why is he doing this? It appears for whatever reason Mr. Amoo-Asante has a personal gripe against one of Africa’s most celebrated and hard-working chief executives. Mr. Sam Jonah does not deserve to be stripped naked by a faceless character who probably has not achieved half as much as the man he is vilifying. What a shame!

Mr. Amoo-Asante makes very damning allegations against Mr. Jonah without providing a shred of evidence to support his claims. He shamelessly presents Mr. Jonah as an omnipotent and corrupt CEO who has the Board of AGC in his pocket including the Government of Ghana. Mr. Amoo-Asante’s disingenuous position is laid bear by his refusal to acknowledge that AGC may have its address in Ghana but it is no longer a wholly owned Ghanaian company. Hundreds and perhaps thousands of shareholders, individuals as well as institutional investors, who do not reside in Ghana own AGC. With a mere 16 per cent of the total shares that the Government of Ghana is holding on behalf of the people of Ghana, it would be suicidal and indeed absolute folly as well as dangerous for the Kufour administration to attempt to stop the sale of Ashanti in its tracks. As Uncle Kwesi Mensah wrote in his beautiful and sober article published in the 15th of September Accra Daily Mail: “… There is more at stake for Ghana in this battle for Ashanti than the interests of its shareholders. How this contest is waged will show whether the Government of Ghana abides by its undertakings and is subject to the Rule of Law. A Ghana Government which adheres to both the spirit and letter of its undertakings will be perceived by all investors as a true champion of the private sector”.

Mr. Amoo-Asante should know that public policy should not and must not be driven by innuendos and personal dislikes. In play language, it is not in the strategic interest of Ghana to appear to meddle in a purely market driven takeover of Ashanti. Yes Mr. Jonah has made money by being associated with Ashanti but is his position any different from other CEOs who run multinational corporations such as Ashanti? Why do we as a people always ascribe ill motif to people who become rich?

It is such backward thinking that has made sub Saharan Africa remained hopelessly under developed and primitive. We have been dancing on the fringes of capitalism rather than embracing it, thus further deepening our misery and poverty. The 2003 UN Human Development Report identifies 25 out of 45 sub Saharan African countries as unlivable! Should we be proud of this categorization?

I salute the likes of Sam Jonah for remaining at home and taking up the challenge of creating wealth. In the process he has made money but we should applaud his success rather than condemning him. Ghana needs more of Sam Jonahs of this world and not less to create wealth. Let us celebrate our heroes and not pull them down!


Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.